Introduction: Problem Statement
One of the deadliest diseases of the 21st century, cancer not only increases death rates among people of all ages impressively (Mulder, 2014), but also triggers major health complexities even after a successful surgery (Mandelblatt, 2014). In their article Effects of cognitive status on life participation of cancer survivors, Baxter, Smith and Wahowski discuss the drops in the rates of cognitive status among cancer survivors, making it clear that a post surgery therapy is crucial for every cancer patient; otherwise, a rapid and significant change in the cognitive processes of the patient is expected and can hardly be prevented.
The study is quite coherent and well organized. It provides a detailed list of the key observations made by the researchers and focuses on both the methodology and the theoretical background of the study greatly. Despite minor issues with the literature review, the study represents a very peculiar and interesting specimen of a qualitative research.
Purpose and Research Questions
The purpose of the study is quite obvious – the authors state from the very beginning that, over the past few decades, a major concern regarding the changes in the cognition processes of cancer survivors has arisen. Several studies have shown that people, who have undergone cancer surgeries, experience considerable problems with cognition and memorizing. Baxter, Smith and Wahowski, therefore, state the purpose of the study in a very explicit and clear manner; according to the researchers, the results are bound to show if the connection between drops in cognitive abilities has anything to do with the surgery and the cancer treatment, or whether the aforementioned observations are merely a train of coincidences.
The research question is stated rather clearly; Baxter, Smith and Wahowski put it in the following way: the goal of the research, as the authors explain, is “to identify the cognitive status of cancer survivors” (Baxter, Smith & Wahowski, 2014, p. 2). Herein the purpose of the study lies; the authors of the article are obviously aiming at measuring the effects that cancer treatment, as well as the disease itself, has in patients and their ability to handle new information, including the process of data acquisition, processing, and usage. It should be mentioned. Though, that the research question is never mentioned, but only implied. Instead, the study authors make a major emphasis on the methodology of the research, particularly, the tools that they use in order to collect the data. Indeed, the questionnaires, with the help of which the information is gathered, is mentioned quite a few times in the article.
Literature Review and Its Quality
As Baxter, Smith and Wahowski explain, the key problem with the study that has been conducted concerns the lack of evidence on the issue. Despite the fact that cancer is, unfortunately, a very common disease, the information concerning the link between cancer and mental disorders, especially such specific ones as the loss of memory or concentration, is very scanty, which does not allow for a full-fledged research. Consequently, the literature review is the weakest aspect of the study. Indeed, the study features no review; instead, the authors mention scraps of uncoordinated pieces of information, which support the study at least to some extent: “Much of the literature indicates that changes in daily tasks are frequent side effects of cancer and cancer treatments” (Baxter, Smith & Wahowski, 2014, p. 11). One might argue that the few sources, which the authors of the study use to support their hypothesis, are current; however, these sources have not been organized into a solid review of the available sources. True, the sources provided as references in the article make sense and support the authors’ vision quite well. Nevertheless, the methodology of the study compensates the lack of literature analysis. Indeed, a closer look at the study will show that Baxter, Smith and Wahowski decided to choose questionnaires as their basic tool for information retrieval. While questionnaires do have a tint of subjectivity around them, with the results restricted to the opinions of a relatively small group of people, such a tool, nevertheless, creates the opportunity for considering real life situations and collecting data directly from patients. Thus, the dubious quality of the literature review can be leveled with an outstanding choice of the research tool.
Conceptual and Theoretical Framework
Even though the research lacks a literature review, it still has a decent theoretical foil to back its analysis on. Baxter, Smith and Wahowski use the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF) as the basis to build their argument on, and they do so in a very successful way. With the help of the aforementioned theory, such functions of the brain as “attention, memory, perception, and thought” (Baxter, Smith & Wahowski, 2014, p. 10) are analyzed, the pre-surgery data compared to the information retrieved after the surgery took place. Since some of the framework, including the possibility of cognitive function deterioration, have been developed from the study results, it can be assumed that the researchers have used the grounded theory method.
Baxter, M. F., Smith, T. & Wahowski, J. (2014). Effects of cognitive status on life participation of cancer survivors. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2(2), 1–17.
Mandelblatt, J. S. (2014). Cognitive impairment in older patients with breast cancer before systemic therapy: Is there an interaction between cancer and comorbidity? Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32(18), 1908–1920.
Mulder, S. F. (2014). BMC Cancer, 14(219), n. p. Web.